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Vista, XP more secure than Mac in 2007?

updated 11:55 am EST, Tue December 18, 2007

Windows Security in 2007

Microsoft may have readily eclipsed Apple in reducing the number of high-risk security vulnerabilities over the course of 2007, according to a list of Secunia notices compiled by ZDNet. While the security firm reported a lower number of security holes for Windows Vista than its XP predecessor, dropping the number of reported flaws from 32 to 20, all versions of Mac OS X produced a total of 243 flaws -- all but two of which are "highly critical" gaps that could significantly compromise a system if successfully exploited, according to Secunia.

The shared tally of Windows flaws amounts to 44, 27 of which were "highly" or "extremely" critical for the software. Secunia does not distinguish between Tiger and Leopard in the update, making it difficult to determine whether Leopard has improved overall security.

Crucially, Apple has also left a higher percentage of these attack vectors unpatched. Roughly 23 percent of all known vulnerabilities have not been fixed and could lead to denial of service 'flood' attacks or similar attacks if the OS is breached, Secunia says. About 15 percent of Windows XP exploits have been left open, while only 5 percent remain for Vista. It is unclear whether these statistics include flaws patched with the 2007-009 Mac OS X update, though the overall list includes vulnerabilities updated as recently as today.

The notice contradicts frequent claims of higher security for Mac OS X and highlights the potential risks associated with using a UNIX-based operating system as an OS foundation. Flaws that surface in FreeBSD, Linux, and other connected operating systems frequently suffer the same flaws, the notes show.

It is unclear at press time how many of the reported Secunia gaps are the result of common code base issues, though some of the unpatched issues relate to VPN or to UNIX services, many of which can only be exploited by a user in front of the physical computer itself. Secunia also does not typically create a detailed list of active, "in the wild" viruses and other exploits, which are largely believed to be far smaller in number for Mac OS X than for Windows.

by MacNN Staff



  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: tempting

    That's because Windows UI uses bright, saturated colours which, if MS knew anything about good UI, wouldn't use.

    If MacOS X used them, it would look just as good. However, I think the colour shift would become apparent on these cheap monitors (Mac or PC) if you view them in person. You get what you pay for.

  1. dpaanlka

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Isn't there like, any sort of review of these things before they appear on MacNN?

  1. howiethemacguy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    eh... I don't believe it

    The very fact that Macs simply aren't being targeted in such larch numbers makes them more secure. I'm not so sure that I trust security companys at their word anyway. They have a product to sell. They can't sell their product without scaring their potential customers first and convincing them that their computers are full of security holes.

  1. mgpalma

    Joined: Dec 1969


    yeah, whatever.


  1. rep828

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yawn; nothing to see here

    This article basically has no useful information; but it does have a catchy title. :-)

    It's nice that the author acknowledges in the last paragraph that the data presented is essentially meaningless because there's no way to interpret it.

    The *only* useful statistics about security are the number of viable threats "in the wild" (which I believe is still a bazillion for Windows and none for Mac OS), and the amount of money spent on combatting those threats (virus & spyware protection being absolutely essential for all Windows users, and optional for Mac OS users because there's nothing for it to do).

  1. Monde

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Factual info please...

    So a firm, underwritten by MS finds that OSX is less secure than Vista. RRrrrigghttt-and we can soon expect monkeys to come flying out of our collective rear ends. To date, I've never seen a single Mac exploited from without-nada-in all the time I've used OSX. I have seen-just recently-a Vista machine compromised on line in just under 5 minutes.

    I agree, Apple should strive to make the world's most secure OS. Wouldn't you know it-they did. Or did we forget the recent OSX challenge where no one could hack a Mac mini despite being given it's IP address? University of MI-if I remember correctly. No one. Call me when a real exploit emerges.

    More non-news.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Will the shills ever quit


    These MicroShills are un-f/n-believable. It's UNIX, folks, NOT Windows.

    They fail to mention the 140,000 PLUS Windows viruses and who knows how much spy and malware is in circulation.

    The argument of smaller marketshare of OS X vs. Windows doesn't fly either. If anyone ever does really crack OS X... without having the password, etc. ... it would be a HUGE feather in the cap of the hacker involved.

    People who own Macs generally love them, so why would they want to mess them up en masse? Few Windows users would make the same claim.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I saw a Mac virus...

    ... in 1991!

    That's it. Never again. With or without virus protection.

  1. smitch

    Joined: Dec 1969



    does an editor allow this to be published. It is meant to do only one thing... irritate the Mac User base. There has to date never been one of these vulnerabilities exploited that I know. Potential issues do not equate with the extensive list of viruses and malicious exploits that occur by the second on MS platforms.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    skin is vulnerable...

    to bullets but unless you are walking through a war zone, it's not exactly an issue. Secunia and MacNN can spin the information anyway they like but I'd sooner be a thin skinned MacUser at BurgerKing than a thick skinned Windows user in Iraq! Get the point MacNN? (Probably not)!

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